Statement Article from  Health Canada

Statement from the Minister of Health in response to certain claims made in the February 29, 2016 Globe and Mail article regarding access to naloxone in First Nations communities

March 2, 2016 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada

OTTAWA - As Minister of Health, I am greatly concerned about the impact of fentanyl, including in First Nations communities. Reducing the dangers of illicit use of fentanyl is a priority for Health Canada, and we continue to work closely with our partners to take action on this problem.

Naloxone is listed in Health Canada's Nursing Station Formulary as a "must stock" antidote. As such, this drug is stocked in every Health Canada nursing station in the country. Health Canada registered nurses are permitted by the Department to administer naloxone in emergency situations, not just in Alberta but across the country. This has always been the case.

The province of Alberta, in December 2015, expanded the scope of practice for registered nurses to include the ability to prescribe naloxone when the requirements set by the provincial nurse's college are met. Prior to this, no registered nurses in the province were able to prescribe naloxone.

Given the recent changes at the provincial level, Health Canada is seizing this opportunity and moving urgently to ensure nurses receive the training required to meet the provincial college's requirements for prescribing.

In addition, Health Canada helped distribute naloxone kits to the Blood Tribe in March 2015 in advance of the provincial naloxone kits program and provided $200,000 in emergency funding to support crisis response and counselling to families affected in Blood Tribe.

Over the past year, we have continued to work with our provincial colleagues as well as First Nations to expedite the distribution of naloxone kits to respond appropriately to fentanyl overdoses.

To further assist with improving access to naloxone across Canada, on January 14, 2016, Health Canada put forward an amendment to the prescription drug list to allow non-prescription use of naloxone specifically for emergency use for opioid overdose outside hospital settings.

We will continue to work closely with the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, local area physicians and the First Nations leadership to support the communities that are dealing with this crisis.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health


Andrew MacKendrick
Office of Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

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Health Canada

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